Ft Stanton, New Mexico to Taos Junction Campground in the Gorge of the Rio Grande

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August 23rd 2014
Published: September 6th 2014
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Ft Stanton to Taos Junction Campground

August 22 – Friday – When I arrived a Ft. Stanton I had driven 764.4 miles so far on this trip. Of that 600 miles of it was just getting out of Texas from College Station.

But now the shooting the gap portion of my trip was over and the enjoying portion could begin.

Last night I stayed in the BLM equestrian trailhead campground at Ft Stanton free. It is at 6300 feet elevation and was cool enough for me to shut my windows and use a blanket. It also rained last night and some this morning.

It felt great this morning when I headed out westward on Hwy 380 from Ft Stanton to I 25. It was quite a scenic drive as well.

I had visited Lincoln again yesterday. Lincoln was the central location of the Lincoln county wars. It has been kept as authentic as possible by the park service. So authentic in fact that there are no gas or grocery stores….so gas up in Roswell before you leave as I did. Gas in Roswell was $3.29 a gallon , while none was in Lincoln and gas in Capitan was $4.45 a gallon. So gas
Valley of FiresValley of FiresValley of Fires

Site of an ancient volcanic eruption
up at Roswell as I did.

Heading west out of Capitan I came to the Valley of Fire. It was the location of a volcanic eruption once and the area is still covered with black lava rock. To the southwest a bit if you had come by in 1945 you would have seen the mushroom cloud of the first atomic bomb being tested.

Heading west I eventually arrived at I-25 a bit south of Socorro and headed north. I headed north to Albuquerque and found the main library downtown to catch up on my emails, etc.

After I got through at the library in Albuquerque, I headed north to the Rest Area south of Santa Fe to overnight there.

I drove through the first part of the rest area to the area on the end that had picnic tables and a great view of the road going down into Santa Fe and Santa Fe itself. What a joy this view had to be to travelers in the past as they gazed down into the valley below and realized the worst of their journey was over. I'm sure many a prayer of thanks giving has been said on this hill.

There is parking for trucks and RV’s down below the tables, however the parking area is large enough that RV’s could distance themselves from the trucks if they wished.

I relaxed and enjoyed the view a bit and had a bit to eat. I took a nap and then enjoyed the rest and view from the covered picnic tables until it got dark, and then I drove around the circle to the top of the rest area again and parked there to sleep. I had a nice overnight stay there. Another free night.

It is 227.9 miles from Ft Stanton to the Rest Area south of Santa Fe.

August 23 –Saturday – This morning I drove back down to the picnic tables with the view again. After having my breakfast and getting ready to leave I noticed something leaking out of the bottom of my truck. I climbed under as much as I could and saw it was dripping off the bottom of my transmission. This caused me some real annoyance and concern but I wanted to make sure what it was. So I stuck a large plastic cup under the drip and gathered a bit of it and was relieved to see it was antifreeze instead of transmission fluid or oil. I checked under the hood and could not see where the leak was coming from but it appeared to be from the back of the engine near the passenger compartment.

I had just used my heater for the first time this year to defrost my windows so I concluded my heater core must be leaking. I felt the carpet inside the passenger compartment and it wasn’t wet which it should have been if the heater core was leaking but I decided (although I knew better) that maybe in this model they had compartmentalized things so if a leak developed it would drain out the bottom of the truck.

In any case I decided to top off my reservoir and drive into Santa Fe to get some stop leak to put in and hopefully if the leak isn’t too bad that should fix it.

So I went into Santa Fe and bought some stop leak at the SuperWalmart on Cerrilos drive plus 2 gallons of antifreeze and put in the stop leak and hopefully that would deal with the problem. I would just have to keep an eye on my radiator and reservoir levels for a bit and hope the stop leak would fix it.

Then I headed into Santa Fe and made three attempts to get to the Plaza but traffic was backed up with everyone else trying to get to the Indian Pow Wow there. It is a once a year big event. Personally I get tired of all the Indian “traditions” BS anyway and didn’t want to go to the pow wow but to the plaza. As far as I am concerned we are all Americans….deal with it.

So I decided to head on up 285 to where Hwy 68 goes off of it towards Taos. I figured I would take a leisurely drive up the canyon on 68 alongside the Rio Grande and then onto Hwy 570 at Pilar and camp in one of the BLM campsites alongside the river.

The weather in Santa Fe was perfect…just perfect with crystal clear skies, as it usually is. So after getting something to eat and filling up the gas tank I headed north out of Santa Fe on 285 towards Hwy 68 and Orilla Verde BLM recreation area south of Taos.

I went Northeast on 68 to Pilar and then turned off onto 570 where I went by campground after campground until I got to where the bridge crossed over the Rio Grande and stopped at the campground there.

I camped at the Taos Junction Campground by the bridge. If I had tried to continue on 570 the road would have dead ended in where it was blocked off by a rockslide years ago.

The campground was really a nice one with covered picnic tables and a great view of the canyon of the Rio Grande. It cost $7.00 a night and with my Senior parks pass was only $3.50.

I figure I will take a leisurely look at things here today and go to Taos tomorrow.

My odometer showed 347190.8 miles, so I had traveled 1085 miles so far on this trip. I had traveled 91.5 miles today over some challenging roads with a water leak I still need to pin down. The stop leak doesn’t appear to be working and so I will keep topping the radiator and reservoir off till I can pinpoint the leak and deal with it, maybe in Pagosa Springs. Colorado or somewhere, by someone other than a dealership or large auto repair shop that always seems to find other massively expensive repairs that need to be made. Since the carpet isn’t wet then I really doubt that it is coming from the heater core, but I haven’t been able to see the source of the leak yet.

When I leave Taos Junction Campground I will take the route on the west bank of the Rio Grande which is Hwy 567and actually only a dirt road at this point, and up over the Mesa. I will take it till it curves off towards Carson. However instead of veering off towards Carson I will continue on straight to Highway 64 near the Rio Grande George Bridge to the Rest Area there on Hwy 64. The rest area is right next to the bridge over the Rio Grande Gorge. It provides great views of the Gorge of the Rio Grande and you can walk out on it to view the gorge. I have overnighted free at the rest area here before but in this instance I will head on into Taos to visit it again and visit Taos Pueblo. Taos Pueblo was closed last time I was here since the entire village had gone on a pilgrimage somewhere??!

Additional photos below
Photos: 17, Displayed: 17


Hiking trailHiking trail
Hiking trail

After a rockslide closed this section of Hwy 570 they just cleared enough for a hiking trail

6th September 2014
Hiking trail

New Mexico
6th September 2014
Hiking trail

Best time of year
Thanks. I have found that the fall is definitely the best time of year to enjoy New Mexico and Colorado.

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